Happy anniversary VESTAS Sailrocket 2!
Thu, 8 Mar 12 13:05
well one year ago today we were madly rushing around on the 'apron' of Venture Quays preparing VESTAS Sailrocket 2 for her first public unveiling and launch. Mother Nature delivered us a perfect day and for us it was a perfect day.
THANKYOU MOTHER NATURE FOR COMING TO THE PARTY
IN SHE GOES WITH VSR1 SITTING IN THE BACKGROUND.
THE VSR2 BUILD TEAM WITH ALL THE VESTAS 'REDUX ROCKETEERS'. HAPPY DAYS.
It was the culmination of a long, hard slog from a clean sheet of paper to a few pallets of raw SP GURIT carbon, epoxy resin and an empty shed to ultimately a shiny new outright world speed sailing record contender ready for 'wetting'.
THE FIRST DESIGN MEETING AFTER THE CRITERIA WERE LAID DOWN FOR VSR2. HERE VARIOUS CONFIGURATIONS WERE DISCUSSED.
THE 1:5TH SCALE MODEL TAUGHT US MANY THINGS ABOUT THE BALANCE OF THIS CONFIGURATION.
THE START UP PHASE WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE INTERESTING. WE COULDN'T JUST CHUCK IT DOWN THE COURSE LIKE WE DID WITH THE MODEL.
HELENA, MATTY, ME AND BEN WITH THE SP GURIT RAW INGREDIENTS FOR ROCKET FUEL. IN AROUND 16 MONTHS THIS WOULD ALL EMERGE AS A SPEED SAILING BOAT.
I think that the effort that the team put in during that time has best been demonstrated by the performance VSR2 displayed in her two development sessions later in the year.
After the launch we immediately shipped her down to the familiar waters of Walvis Bay in Namibia for initial trials.
I was pretty nervous of how things were going to unfold. Whilst everyone wants to know how fast she will go, from our own design perspective it was equally important to figure out exactly how she was going to get there. The low speed behaviour and acceleration is usually an area that is compromised when you are aiming for high speeds alone. If you get it wrong you can be stuck on the launch pad looking pretty average. We were worried about this and had built a few trick options into VSR2 to help us if necessary i.e. swinging beams to move the rig fore and aft and the ability to add a retractable low speed foil for extra grip. Indeed VSR2 did sit pretty dead in the water initially but finally we got it together and on the 16th of May, VESTAS Sailrocket 2 got over the 'hump' and sailed 'properly' for the first time.
THE FIRST TIME VSR2 CLIMBED OVER THE 'HUMP' AND ONTO HER FEET. BOTH THE 10 AND 20 KNOT BOTTLES OF POL ROGER CHAMPAGNE GOT SMOKED.
THE HUMP. GET IT?... NEVERMIND!
HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO, HERE WE GOOOOO!
We were off the launch pad. In two days we were over 40 knots and in only 23 sailing days from launch we were over 50 knots. That was very rapid progress.
FULL BEANS. WE WEREN'T SHY WHEN IT CAME TIME TO PUSH.
We had arrived at the gates to real high speed and this where it gets real interesting.
Once we got into the low 50's we saw that we could constantly get there with whatever foil we stuck on the boat. It didn't matter whether we had a conventional foil, a weird wedge or even a weird wedge chopped in half. We seemd to be hitting the same numbers around 51-52 knots. This is where our first boat maxed out and pretty much where both Hydroptere and Macquarie Innovations ended up. It seems that this is the 'glass ceiling' for conventional foils. Sure we all have the odd surge over this speed but it seems that on average, after a heap of effort by a number of teams on wildly different boats, this is where you will end up in the real world.
TOP SPEED HERE OF 54.4 KNOTS WITH AN UNSUSPECTING PASSENGER IN THE BACK. SMOOTH AS SILK.
However, VESTAS Sailrocket 2 was designed to go a lot faster than this. She was designed to be a strong, stable and very powerful tractor which could pull any shape through the water to its limit. We pushed the boat and the team extremely hard during that second session. We sailed in conditions with winds well over our 30 knot design limit. The fact that she was manageable at all in these conditions demonstrated what an all round, tough-arse and practical boat she is. But still we hit this same speed limit. Our best speed was achieved with the new 'wedge' shaped foil which we had hoped would ventilate i.e. suck air down from the surface over the entire suction side of the foil. It obviously wasn't happening. We had to make the brutal decision of chopping it down in 15 cm increments to try and increase the area loading on the foil to initiate ventilation. Even with half its area gone it didn't happen.
We had learnt a huge amount and now had a boat that was battle honed and effortlessly taking us to the gates of a potential breakthrough without drama.
This is where we left her at the end of 2011. It was time to go back to school.
Now that VSR2 was at this level, we could focus all our efforts and resource onto the hydrodynamic issues in an effort to bust through this 'glass' ceiling. This is where we are at now.
HERE and NOW
Obviously we do not have unlimited time and budgets. In fact both are very limited. We try and run as tight a ship as possible as we never know what is around the corner. If we can save a dollar anywhere we will. Helena and I took two months away from the project after Xmas so that the money could be focused where it is needed most. We have taken on a specialist hydrodynamicist to help us best understand exactly what is happening down below with the foils. I will introduce him properly later when we talk in more detail.
Basically we are trying to go down a path where no one has gone before. Sure there have been high speed hydrofoils before that have gone way over 50 or even 60 knots... but they have all been powered. The big difference is that the foils usually only have to lift the static weight of the craft and not oppose the side forces generated by the sails as well. It's a fascinating puzzle... if you're into this sort of thing (Which if if you have made it this far down this particular page I can only assume you are)!
I will get more into the nitty-gritty of this in a following blog update. For now I will just say that our brains trust is stronger than ever and flat out 'at it' working on this problem. They are living in the world of CFD's and VPP's with full FEA's and loving it.
1 WEEK AGO IN THE AEROTROPE OFFICES.
We have full faith that we can smash through this glass ceiling and that this year we will see VESTAS Sailrocket 2 reach her full potential. VSR2 is patiently waiting down in Namibia for our return and I reckon she could be made ready for sailing over 50 knots within a few days. We won't return until we have a very thorough foil solution with us. I think that things will happen pretty quickly if we have done our homework well. We understand the real issues much better and this understanding verifies our performances to date.
We are still aiming to be back in Namibia around April/May for some trials.
Yep, the last year generated some very fond memories. Hopefully the best is still to come.
A BIG THANKS
Of course we owe thanks to so many people for the support offered throughout the year let alone over all the years. I hope you have enjoyed the ride and seen your input rewarded by the rapid progress that the project has made. Now let's finish this. More champagne awaits!